Preparing for Thanksgiving
Whether it’s your first-time hosting or your fiftieth, Thanksgiving is always a stressful holiday. Here is an essential timeline to de-stress and enjoy the day.
Two to Three Weeks Before
Make a plan
Start planning your dinner. Think about where you want guests to sit and where you want to set up your food. You can do a buffet style or place the food on the table with your guests. If you will have more than eight guests, it’s better to do a buffet style.
Create a menu
Create a menu with recipes that are simple and trusted. Try not to get too crazy with new recipes. If you want to do something unique, try making a signature drink or a new dessert to go along with your classic pumpkin pie. Once you have your menu confirmed, create a grocery list.
Order your turkey
When ordering your turkey, you’ll want to purchase three-quarters to a pound of turkey per person. This will leave you with at least one day of leftover turkey. You can buy the turkey ahead of time and freeze it. Keep in mind you will need one day of thawing for every four pounds. While you’re ordering your turkey, consider ordering prepared appetizers or desserts to serve. There’s nothing wrong with not preparing everything that goes onto your Thanksgiving table.
Confirm your guest list
Make sure you know how many people are coming to your house. You’ll also want to make a note of how many children are coming as well. Once you have an idea of how many people are coming, you can ask people if they would like to bring anything with them. Many people may even offer to bring something. For this, make sure that you get specific as to what they should bring (you can even provide them with the recipe) so that you know what food you will be serving.
One week before
Grocery shopping can be stressful. Get it out of the way five to six days in advance to avoid the day of craziness at the grocery store.
Prepare for overnight guests
Make sure have fresh linens and towels for your guests. Make up any beds and make sure that you have shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that they can use ready in the shower.
Make the table
Taking care of this relieves some day-of stress. If you plan on having assigned seating, have place cards ready. Sit small children between their parents. Pro-tip, if you have any lefties eating at your Thanksgiving, place them on the end of the table to avoid any bumping elbows.
Make sure you have all the essential tools needed for cooking and serving your meal. Make sure you have a meat thermometer, casserole dishes, and enough plates and silverware for everyone to use.
You can start cooking some items a few days ahead so you don’t have to worry about preparing the day of. Gravies can be frozen and casseroles and vegetables can be cooked a few days in advance. If you can’t make something in advance, try to prepare any items you can. Chop herbs and vegetables, get spices ready, or anything else that can speed along your cooking process on Thanksgiving Day.
Wake up early
Unfortunately, Thanksgiving isn’t the day to sleep in. Make a schedule beforehand and stick to it. You’ll want to be prepared at least an hour before guests are set to arrive. You will most likely have guests arrive early, and there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of getting dressed when you have someone at the door!
Keep food warm
There are many ways to keep your food warm while you’re waiting for dinnertime. Use your microwave to keep food warm for up to half an hour. Gravy can be kept in a thermos to keep it warm. Use crock-pots to keep other sides warm.
Get the perfect turkey
The general rule of thumb is to cook the turkey for thirteen minutes per pound. Check in three places, the breast, thigh, and stuffing, to check whether the turkey is cooked. The temperature should be at least 165°F. If it isn’t at this point in any of the three locations, cook the turkey for twenty more minutes. If you don’t have stuffing, your cooking time may be slightly different. Look online to find the perfect way to season your turkey.
Now that everything’s done, you can sit back and relax with your family and enjoy the delicious meal you have prepared.